Life lessons

Styling myself happy

Last week, I joined a style challenge on Instagram on weekdays. There were prompts to follow like with most photo challenges except this involved styling yourself a certain way. It wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary – knitwear, animal prints, favourite colours – you get the gist. I’d been feeling quite flat and emotional the week before and in our fourth month of working from home, was feeling unmotivated from not having seen my team in person. So I jumped on this bandwagon for a bit of fun.

And it was worth it. Every night before going to bed, I’d have a look at the prompt for the next day and think about what I could wear. It was something else to look forward to in addition to the gym. After the gym, I’d wear my outfit and take a photo, size it the way I wanted to and post it on my grid. During the day, I’d scroll and see others’ outfits, comment on them and also enjoy some of the comments on my own. But it wasn’t just about the vanity of publishing photos. It was being able to see my bright outfits on a grid. It was being able to see others’ bright outfits in this dark and gloomy world. It was smiling at the comments and connecting with others.

When we first began working from home, I wore jeans and my professional tops. After a month of struggling to switch off from work in a healthy way and working really long hours, I changed my tune. I started to dress as I would at work. I even wore the shoes and occasionally, lipstick. At that time, most people were talking about working from home in track pants and sweatshirts, making jokes about never needing to wear a bra. But that was something I struggled with.

For me, wearing my work clothes at home did a few things. Firstly, it put me in my work mindset. But also, more importantly, it helped me break up the day between work and life. Because after work, I had to actually change my clothes into my track pants and sweatshirt to allow my body and mind to know that it was time to switch off. I had the sensation of freedom at taking my bra off at the end of the day – something that has almost always signified ‘downtime’.

Getting dressed was one of the few things that got me through the months of lockdown and isolation. In my case, it was literal isolation for those months because I live alone and was working from home. But when I dressed up, I felt ready to take on the workday. I felt ready to face the world despite the loneliness and disconnection from people in my life. It also helped me form a routine of sorts at the time. Interestingly, dressing up also garnered comments from strangers when I’d go for a lunchtime walk thereby helping me connect with people outside.  Like the time a couple of ladies commented on a red dress and matching red shoes that I was wearing. Or the time when a guy commented on my yellow skirt and shoes matching the yellow leaves from a tree around me. It led to smiles, laughs and conversations.

I am not a fashion guru. I will never be a style inspiration. I don’t follow trends. I don’t look for famous brand names. But I enjoy wearing clothes that make me feel good and work for me. I enjoy looking good for myself. I enjoy wearing something that lifts my spirits, even if just for a few hours a day. And goodness knows in these times, even the little things matter.

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  • Parul Thakur
    15 July 2020 at 12:29 am

    I have been following your Instagram updates and I love the outfits. My favorite was the blue one that had pockets. Very smart and something I would have picked for myself too.
    I am different though on dressing up and getting to work. I am in that no bra, t-shirts and shorts zone. Though before getting to work (from home) in the morning – I shower, change into fresh clothes, apply kajal and wear my earrings. I think that is doing me the trick that the dress and shoes do for you. Cos I get ready with kajal and earrings and then get on calls, I feel I am at work (and video calls). At the end of the day, I take off my earrings and change into my tank tops.
    I loved this piece for its simplicity and it was a mood lifter for me. I smiled all along and thought of the differences in our approach.
    Parul Thakur recently posted…Lockdown, sunday and my lifeMy Profile

  • Venice
    16 July 2020 at 12:54 am

    I love your style – it just oozes stylish comfort! My favourite outfit is the one with the Gryffindor scarf 😉 But seriously, you look amazing in all of them. Fashion sense or not, these outfits are HAWT! I am a lazy person and this lockdown has seen me dress up only to fetch groceries and what-not, otherwise I’m in my pajamas 😀 I admire people like you who dress to work even from home, will hopefully learn to add this good habit sometime soon.
    Venice recently posted…I’ve got the ocean ‘blues’My Profile

  • Jen Mierisch
    16 July 2020 at 2:56 pm

    Your conclusion is spot on, the little things absolutely matter, especially when we’re denied the big things during a pandemic! The part about having to change back into casual clothes to tell yourself it was time to “switch off” makes so much sense. I’ve worked from home for years, and it’s been constant jeans and T-shirts, but even so, a month or two ago I was so sick of jeans that I wore dresses for a week. Some of them hadn’t seen the light of day in years. My kids were like, “Why are you so dressed up, Mom?!” but I didn’t care because it just made me happy. Also, I covet your striped dress at the upper left!
    Jen Mierisch recently posted…EnduranceMy Profile

  • asha
    16 July 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Oooo this was a really good perspective to present. It’s one we don’t really hear enough about and I think it’s more prevalent than we assume. That delineation between work and home life/thinking does need some kind of a marker (I blame all those years of school and being governed by school bells dictating what it was now time to do!).

    The ‘meat’ of this essay really began in the third paragraph, and while the first two paragraphs provided some important background, I felt like that could have been shortened to the most succinct sentences to be inserted later on in the essay (as background). I also want to gently tweak that last paragraph so you don’t diminish yourself with qualifiers. I’d start the paragraph at “B̶u̶t̶ I enjoy wearing clothes that make me feel good and work for me”, without all the qualifiers of what you’re not, and losing that “but”.

  • Amanda Myers
    17 July 2020 at 8:17 am

    It was so nice to hear a positive adaptation to this crazy world we are living in now! The second to last paragraph did a great job of explaining what rewards you reaped, perhaps you could reference again making a connection with others. The last paragraph has great cadence, a nice strong finish. Nice job!

  • Shalzmojo
    22 July 2020 at 4:41 pm

    I know what you mean about changing clothes at the end of the day to signal the downtime; I have been in my PJs the whole day and I guess thats what really screwed my mind. I have erratic sleep modes and when I am awake its later than before. No mood to get into exercise late in the day, etc, etc.

    I have loved seeing your pics and commend you for taking the effort to do this. You look really cute in that pony and I just love the color and curl in your hair at the moment.

    Stay blessed and happy Sanchie XOXO
    Shalzmojo recently posted…| Fiction | The saucy Ketchup tales of the Baisiwala sistersMy Profile

  • July 2020 Reflections - Sanch Writes
    3 August 2020 at 5:22 pm

    […] posts. I did, however, write the poems previously mentioned, the flash fiction, and an essay on styling myself happy. Let’s see how things go this month on the blogging […]